Sunday, September 25, 2011

Fresh Pasta

Have you ever had fresh pasta?

I hadn't.  Until I got this

nifty little mixer attachment for my 30th birthday.

And my hopes of having a skinny decade were instantly dashed.  Darn.

The thing is, that fresh pasta is to dried pasta like fresh peaches are to canned peaches.

Maybe that was a bad analogy.  Because I actually happen to like canned peaches.

But the point is that fresh pasta is not even close to being in the same league as the dried stuff in a box.  It's not even like majors v. minors.  It's like a whole different game altogether.

I've made pasta with my attachment several times, and each time my technique improves.  I'm evolving, you could say.  Or at least my pasta is.

Since I've had a request to post how to make fresh pasta, here we go.  It's really not hard.  The recipe is pretty fool-proof and the technique is something you just have to try until you feel comfortable.  That's the great thing - if you mess up one sheet of pasta, just fold it over itself and put it through the pasta roller again.

Now you can be fat, too.

Okay!  Start the bowl of your mixer.  And add some flour, salt, water, and eggs.

I got this recipe from the recipe book that came with my pasta roller.  I just made the "Basic Egg Pasta" because I don't even know what Semolina flour is.  Much less where to buy it.

So you want to just follow the directions:

Stir the ingredients together with the paddle attachment of your mixer.

Until the dough is crumbly and looks about like this:

Okay, now switch to your dough hook and mix another 2 minutes.

And it should be even more crumbly like this:

Take it out of the bowl and just form it into a ball with your hands.  As you can tell, the dough is very firm.  That's exactly what you want.  It will still be a little crumbly, but that's okay.

And now you want to knead it for 2 minutes.  This will make it smooth and elastic.

Now that you've given it a good workout, let it rest for 20 minutes.

While it's resting, get the the attachment ready to go.

Take the little knob off of the front of your mixer and fit the attachment like this

Just be sure you screw it into place so it doesn't fall off.

And be sure the thickness knob is set on one.

Now back to our dough.  It's had a nice rest so we're ready to cut it into fourths.  If you want to freeze some/all of your pasta dough to roll out later, here's your chance.  Just put it into a freezer bag and throw it into the freezer.  When you're ready to roll later, let it come to room temperature before you put it through the roller.

Take one of the quarters and flatten it out a little.

Turn your mixer speed on 2 and slowly feed the dough through the pasta roller.  It's thick, but this is the thickest setting.  So it will work.  Trust me.

Feed the dough through a couple of times - still on the first setting - before you fold it into thirds:

And feed it through again.

Okay!  Now we're ready for a big step - setting number 2.

It's starting to get thinner!  Run it through setting 2 twice before you move on to setting three.

It's getting longer, too.  Run it through twice on setting four now.

By the time you get to the fifth setting, your pasta is super long and super thin.

 Now, this part just depends on how thin you like your pasta.  For lasagna, or cannelloni (rolls of pasta stuffed with meat/cheese), I like to stop on setting five.  Any thinner than that, and it's simply too thin and it will tear while you are cooking the pasta.

Since I'm making cannelloni, I'm going to stop now.  And here's what each fourth of the pasta dough now looks like:

See how long it is?

Now we need to stack up the pieces so we can cook them.  This step involves a lot of flour and a medium-sized mess.

Unless you have your 3-year-old helping you.  Then it's a lot of flour and a very large mess.

She wanted you to see her hand.

Sprinkle a generous amount of flour on your counter and lay the first sheet of pasta on top.  Cut it so that it is about 6-8 inches long.

Now sprinkle even more flour on the sheet of pasta

And cut another piece to go on top.

And just keep cutting and stacking until you have a nice pile of fresh pasta, waiting to be cooked.  You should get about 4 six-inch pieces of pasta out of each quarter of dough.

At this point you can either leave them in sheets or you can cut them into strips for fettuccine or tagliatelle.

Now we're ready to cook it.  Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil.

Salt it generously (a couple of tablespoons) and add a couple of tablespoons of olive oil.

I don't normally oil my pasta water, but I make an exception for fresh pasta.

Fresh pasta is relatively delicate (compared to lasagna noodles in a box, which are a first cousin to rubber) and the oil keeps these noodles from from goming* together and making a pasta glob in your pot.

*gom - a made-up verb straight from a holler in Eastern Kentucky meaning "to make a mess."  As in: "I just hate it when my pasta goms."

You can add the pasta all at once and it won't stick together - provided that you followed the instructions above and oiled the water.

Stir it around while it cooks.  Cook it for about 2 minutes.  And then drain it.

You'll want to separate the sheets pretty quickly so they do not gom*.

*see definition above

We're through with this pasta post now.  You can go make lasagna now.  Or you can make the cannelloni that I'm going to show you later this week.

This stuff is worth the work.  It's absolutely delicious.

Fresh Pasta
Adapted from KitchenAid

4 eggs
1/2 tsp salt
1 T water
3 1/2 cups flour

Add the ingredients to the bowl of your KitchenAid mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Mix for 30 seconds.  Change to the dough hook and knead on speed 3 for 2 minutes.

Remove the dough from the mixer and form it into a ball.  Knead it for two minutes until it becomes firm and elastic and smooth to the touch.

Let it rest for 20 minutes at room temperature.

Cut the dough into fourths.  Flatten each fourth roughly into a rectangle.  Fit the pasta roller attachment on the front of your mixer and turn the dial to level one (for the thickest pasta).  Turn the mixer on speed 2 and feed the rectangle of pasta dough through the roller.

Feed the dough through twice before you fold it into thirds and feed it through twice again.

Change the pasta roller thickness to level 2 and feed the dough through at least twice, doing the same for levels 3, 4, and 5.

Lay the pasta on the counter and cut each long strip into 6-inch strips.  Sprinkle flour on the counter and in between each sheet of pasta, stacking them on top of each other.  Generously flour in between each sheet of pasta because they will stick together.

When you have processed all of the pasta sheets, bring a large pot of water to a boil and sprinkle in a generous amount of salt and olive oil (about 2 tablespoons of each).  Add the pasta sheets and cook them for 2 minutes.  Drain into a colander and immediately pull the sheets apart (use tongs for this).  Proceed to use the sheets for lasagna or cannelloni.

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